Authentic Mexican recipes outfit fresh meats with delicious aromas within the traditional kitchen of Carnitas Don Rafa. Equipped with a 40-year-old recipe, expert meat-seasoners craft signature carnitas—tender morsels of fried pork served beside rice and beans and an imposing cactus salad that wards off thieves. Protein-laden breakfast dishes kick off morning routines with hearty doses of scrambled eggs and tortilla strips, and evening munchers can wash down platters with cocktails and cognac.
Mario Dovalina and Edwin Ptak established the original Pepe's Mexican Restaurant in 1967 in order to satisfy diners craving authentic Mexican dishes. With more than 40 locations in the Chicagoland area and northwestern Indiana and traditional eats that are sold across the United States and even in Mexico, Pepe's appeases a wide audience with its hearty options. Appetizers such as chips and fresh guacamole made daily or chili con queso ready bellies for veggie burritos bursting with seasonal vegetables. Flat-screen TVs broadcasting sports games or ballerina-wrestling matches dot the spacious walls at many of the chain’s casual eateries, keeping diners in their seats long after their shrimp, pork, or vegetable fajitas are finished.
The beats of lean cuts of meat sizzling on the grill and ladles clanking against trays of zesty vegetables fill Qdoba Mexican Grill during construction of made-to-order Mexican fare. As healthy-eating devotees, Qdoba's staff stocks its kitchen with nutritious ingredients, seasonal flavors, and 100% cotton candy–free tortillas.
Mago, which is Spanish for magician, drafted chef Juan Luis Gonzalez to craft authentic Latin and Mexican dishes that “dazzle” diners, according to the Daily Herald. The menu surveys both traditional and updated dishes, including three kinds of ceviche, empanadas stuffed with seasoned meats, and complex moles. Beyond the main dishes, the chef experiments with sucrose in desserts such as chocolate molten cake with chipotle ice cream, as well as a cantina menu highlighted by margaritas, mezcals, and mojitos served in glass sombreros.
With exposed brick walls, large rounded windows, and wooden barrels decorating the dining room, Rancheros Mexican Grille & Cantina creates an authentic southwestern atmosphere to compliment their flavorful dishes. Metal chandeliers gently sway above spacious dining and banquet areas, where guests share orders of homemade chicken tamales or octopus, shrimp, and tilapia ceviche seasoned with lime juice and cilantro. Burritos bind marinated skirt steak, grilled shrimp, spicy pork, and other ingredients inside a warm tortilla that keeps bites from falling on the floor or floating away in zero gravity.
Brightly painted walls, vivid paintings of Mexican life, and flavorful margaritas lend Las Palmas' numerous locations a relaxed, distinctly "fiesta" vibe. As guests slowly unwind with friends, family, or Twister champions over ice-cold Mexican beers and cocktails, the chefs prepare fajitas, enchiladas, and tacos alongside plates of charbroiled meats and seafood. They also whip up vegetarian-friendly options, such as the signature guacamole and enchiladas banana, which they stuff with fried bananas and smother in mole sauce and melted cheese.
Casa Santiago's talented chefs whip up fresh mole, ranchero sauce, and guacamole to spice up burritos and chimichangas. For breakfast lovers, the kitchen prepares spicy chorizo and eggs ranchero at all hours of the day, which can be delivered to the patio to guests soaking up summer rays. Behind the bar, bartenders concoct fruity frozen margaritas and serve bottled, imported brews to quench diners' thirst and complement each dish.